Breakfast of Biodiversity

This book was definitely a bit more informative than what we have been reading. I  liked learning about everything, but I got a little bored at times. I thought it could have had a little bit more pizzaz, instead of just stating the facts. However, here are somethings that I enjoyed/found interesting:

  • I had never really read much about the banana industry before this book. I think its insane how much impact this one small fruit has on the entire rainforest ecosystem and human population, just so we can have a delicious snack on our breakfast cereal. I never really liked bananas anyways, so I think I might make more of an effort to stop eating them.I briefly looked through this paper I found online about Dole’s ecological footprint. According to this paper, Dole Fresh Fruit Company is the largest fruit-related company on the planet; its revenues for the year 2000 were $4.76 billion employing 61 000 people full time around the world. They are using slash and burn agriculture to destroy much of the rain forest landscape just to plant a fruit for the U.S. to enjoy. In reality, I realize that most rain forest dominated countries that grow bananas rely on that market to keep their economies going. Does reading this book change anyone else ideas about supporting the Dole corporation? Could you give up your banana at breakfast, or does it not really bother you that much?

    Deforestation from Banana Plantations

  • I really liked the chapter at the beginning of the book that described in detail how rain forests work, and how agriculture on rain forest soils works.  The only rain forest soils that I was ever aware of were the ones that were too acidic for any long term agriculture to sustain and cannot hold on to any nutrients. I did not even know about the 4 other rain forest soils: alluvial soils, volcanic soils, hillside soils, and swamp soils. These all seem to have their problems as well, but nothing as bad as the acidic soils which require slash and burn agriculture to grow on. What I really never realized was that most rain forest soils are a mozaic of all the different types. The book talked about farmers having to locate the good from the bad soils. I guess what I don’t understand is, why can’t the farmers just try and plant on the good soils so they don’t have to slash and destroy multiple plots of land because of loss of soil fertility? Perhaps maybe it’s not that easy? I would definitely like to learn more about farming and agriculture on rain forest soils.

    Nutrient Rich Volcanic Soils

  • The last chapter of the book talked about the web of causality for rain forest destruction. I think I just got a little bit overwhelmed and confused here, especially after trying to decipher Figure 11.1 and Figure 11.2 on pages 172-173.  I feel as if the author is analyzing everything too much and trying to come up with a very specific plan of action. How do you think the author could have better concluded all his research and findings at the end of this book?

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